There were the same weirdos (the guy who burps when he's nervous), the same wannabes (the Britney fanatic), the same sob stories (enter triumph over tragedy here), even the same songs ("Hallelujah" yet again) -- pretty much the same everything.
See photos of "Idol" hopefuls auditioning in Los Angeles.
One major change: These judges "aren't in the business of crushing spirits," as Jennifer Lopez put it. But here's one pleasant surprise -- they were a lot funnier than we thought they would be. Especially Steven Tyler. While the Aerosmith frontman doesn't have Cowell's frosty wit, he is pretty outrageous. His best line of the night, in response to one contestant: "Well hellfire, save matches, f--- a duck, and see what happens." What??
He also has something that Cowell didn't have -- he's fun. Tyler's love of music came through again and again, and he often couldn't resist singing along or pounding on the table. Guess that's why he fronted the best-selling American rock band in history.